The first of more than 200 firefighters from six European countries who will help their Greek counterparts fight wildfires have arrived in Athens, AP reported.
On Saturday, 28 Romanian firefighters were greeted by Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides and the leadership of Greece’s Fire Service.
The Romanians, along with other countries, including Russia and Turkey, helped Greece fight the August 2021 large-scale forest fires that engulfed the entire country and devastated the northern part of Evia, Greece's second largest island, as well as the southern part of the Peloponnese peninsula.
This year, the EU created a "pilot pre-positioning project" that should lead to a permanent pan-European cooperation program.
Romanian firefighters, who brought five fire trucks with them, will work in the Attica region, which includes the country's capital, Athens, until July 31.
Those who arrived on Friday will be replaced by an equal number of Romanian firefighters on July 15th. In August, their place will be taken by a French contingent of 25 people.
A team of 16 Bulgarian firefighters with four fire engines also arrived on Friday in the city of Larisa in central Greece, where they were greeted by local authorities and fire officials. The Bulgarians will be in the area during July.
On July 15, 16 German firefighters will start working in the Peloponnese; in early August they will be relieved by 14 Norwegian and 24 Finnish firefighters, who will be replaced by the same number of their compatriots in mid-August.
Forest fires often occur in Greece, which is facilitated by hot and dry weather and frequent strong winds. Climate change also means wildfire seasons are getting longer.
Greek authorities say rising fuel costs have exacerbated the problems of the fire service, which relies heavily on aircraft to fight fires in the mountainous country.